Quirks of a Habitual Reader

I could write today about how people who have a habit of driving without using their indicators, or just general bad driving, makes me crazy.

Or how people who insist on shortening people’s names for them are rude and irritating.

I could reflect in awe about those who habitually see the positive in everything.

Or those who are confident enough to pull off the quirkiest of clothing beautifully.

But I’m not going to.

Because, as I wracked my brain–and trolled the internet–for some kind of definitive topic to launch into, I came across this article: 19 Quirky Conundrums Only Booklovers Understand.

I’m not really a fan of the Huffington Post but this list of booklover-specific quirks is just so me, that I couldn’t help but smile, and then laugh, and finally feel compelled to expound upon a few most of them.

For example, conundrum #1: finding the perfect place to read. I am forever moving around the house, or the city, trying out various places. How can you focus enough to sink into the story if you’re uncomfortable?

I might start by lying across the bed on my stomach, but then my elbows or my shoulders get sore and I have to move. I can’t lie on my back because all the blood drains out of my hands, they start to tingle, and the next thing you know, I’ve either dropped the book on my face or moved. Again.

The sofa is too hard. The red chair, which is where it is because it is supposed to be the reading nook, only works for half an hour or so. Sometimes, I end up at the top or the bottom of a staircase. That works for a while, until my backside gets sore. Lying in bed, under the covers, leaning against the headboard is perfect, but I can hardly lie in bed all day! The coffee shop makes my clothes smell like warmed up soup and, well, coffee.

So, I continue to move around.

There are a few books that are so good, that though discomfort begins to creep through my limbs, I can’t quite force myself to move right away. I think, “I’ll move at the end of this sentence.” But I don’t.

How does one find books that are that good? That is quirky conundrum #6. Deciding which book to read.

I have an ongoing list of books I want to read. I update it more often than I scratch books off it. And that’s partly because I have an elaborate process I go through when selecting the next book to read (involving the obsessive reading of too many reviews, simultaneously, on Goodreads, Amazon, Google, the local library’s website, and blogs, seeking out the author’s website, asking friends for recommendations, and considering at length which plot I’m in the mood for).

Selecting the right next book is especially tricky if the previous one was heartbreakingly good.

And that is quirky conundrum #11. If I’m really enjoying a book, I will struggle painfully between devouring it, ravenously, word by word, and trying not to finish it because I know I will miss it. Sure, I can always re-read it. But it’s not the same relationship when you go back a second time. It just never is.

As for the opposite issue, abandoning the books I just can’t quite fall in love with (#8), I tend to think at first that it’s just me, that I should push on through. Persevere. Others have enjoyed it. People I care about (in a bookish way) have recommended it. Maybe I just need to give it more time.

But truth be told, if I don’t love it 50 pages in, it’s a lost cause. And really, if I’m going to love it, that usually happens by the end of the first chapter.

I may keep going, but I will probably also start reading something else at the same time. Something that I really click with. And then that’s that. De facto death of the first one. Sometimes I try it again when I’m in a different frame of mind and that works. But sometimes I just…can’t.

One does not simply walk past a bookstore (conundrum #16). Even if I am in the middle of the greatest read of my life, even if I’m not in the market for a new book at all, I still cannot resist the pull of a bookstore.

And once I’m in, I can’t help but gravitate to the beautiful books. Pick them up. Read their backs. And before you know it, I’m leaning against the wall or crouched on the floor, reading. Sometimes I get through a full chapter. And then I realize I’m hooked. I’m a chapter in and I need to know what happens next. Or the text is so lyrical that I want to continue to be submersed in it. Either way, that book is coming home with me. It is joining my collection. Even though I have thousands more and nowhere to put it (conundrum #15).

And I wasn’t even planning to buy anything!

Some may think this compulsive. Quirky. Weird. Maybe it is. But books are one of the great pleasures in life and a store full of them is heavenly and tempting, both at the same time.

I don’t need much, but I do need to be surrounded by books. Thankfully, my husband and son are the same.

I’m not sure what I would do with someone who didn’t like to read (conundrum #17). I know I’ve met a few in my life, but I must not know them anymore as I can’t quite remember who they were.